This is nothing out of the ordinary, but my sister-in-law Shannon is a shining star this week. She is shining even brighter than usual, because she is a featured blogger this week during the Cleveland area's Sustainable Heights No-Impact Week. She has this ability to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, the frugal into the extravagant, and the drab into loveliness. What is truly wonderful about Shannon's talents are that they are reflected both in the physical world around her and in the soul of herself and her family. You walk into her house and it smells all at once clean, delicious, and like fresh plants. While I spend a lot of time sleeping, eating, and running, she is crafting beautiful things, working part-time, making fresh foods, and mothering two lovely little boys. Needless to say, she's an inspiration.
I've been reading her blog this week and am being mindful of each day's no-impact challenge. Monday it was to Shop Your Home. I'm actually pretty good at this, especially since I inherited a lot of random stuff from my mom. A lot of it has been sold in garage sales or donated to Goodwill, but I've found some great uses for everyday things. Coffee cans make fabulous containers for things like paint brushes. Since we got a bin to collect plastic bags, my husband and I never buy trash bags anymore. I've found several good buys on Craig's List, and am not at all opposed to taking hand-me-downs from friends and family. Very few things need to be bought new to work in my opinion. Scraps of fabric make great cloth napkins, a tip I learned from my great aunt who made napkins out of anything from old sheets to pajamas to curtains! I never throw out old towels or wash cloths; they make fabulous cleaning rags. When they finally reach the point of no reuse, they go into the compost bin.
Tuesday was Use No Trash. I did well! Using no trash is generally pretty easy for me, the one exception being that I tend to grab paper napkins at work without thinking. I brought a few cloth napkins to work and they're in my desk drawer. I usually always brown-bag it to work and bring my own water bottle. The office has a kitchen with all the dishes and utensils I could possibly need, which is fabulous. We can use, rinse, and reuse as much as we want.
My challenges are with packaging. I find the single serve yogurts to be so convenient for my hubby's snacks, so I buy them when they're on sale. I know I could buy bulk vanilla yogurt and throw in frozen berries for less money - time to start doing that again. I also really enjoy the convenience of string cheese, when it would be much cheaper to buy blocks of cheese and portion out to throw in a tupperware with apple slices and crackers. Single-serve snack packaging is ridiculous, so I generally avoid those purchases. I like to buy in bulk more which is much less expensive for premium stuff, and you can use your own packaging. I like using and reusing Ziplock bags because they store easy in a special basket I have in my pantry. Beverages and produce waste more packaging than just about any other category. I like to make my own iced tea, it's so cheap and I can compost the tea bags. I try to avoid plastic bottles as much as possible. It's tricky but easier than one would think if you don't mind tetra pack. For produce, I'm going to start using Greenling on a bi-weekly basis. I got my first bin from them yesterday. Absolutely no packaging on the produce except rubber bands to hold the green onions together. They used shredded paper on the bottom of the bin to protect everything, and that can go right into the compost bin.
Today the challenge is "Getting from Point A to Point B." Ugg. My commute is 25 miles, so I am not a good example of green transportation. We do have pretty fuel-efficient cars that we keep maintained. We consolidate errands. Austin is not the most pedestrian-friendly city, but I do the best I can to walk whenever possible. One of my co-workers is moving very close to my neighborhood, so we will probably carpool at least a couple of times a week. I do love to bike and want to get a basket so I can go shopping by bike. I will say, my exercise is about as green as it gets: running and biking. See the world by foot or pedal. Love it!